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Bronze Age arrowhead made of meteoritic iron identified by study



A study of archaeological collections from the greater area of Lake Biel in Switzerland has revealed that a Bronze Age arrowhead housed in the Bern History Museum was made from IAB meteoritic iron.

The arrowhead was found during a 19th century excavation of a stilt house settlement at Mörigen in the canton of Bern. The settlement dates from around 900 to 800 BC and was inhabited by people from the Urnfield culture, a late Bronze Age culture of Central Europe.

The site was discovered in 1843 after water levels in Lake Biel dropped. This resulted in amateur excavations taking artefacts out of situ which were placed in private collections.

In 1873, the Bernese government took decisive action to protect the site, by prohibiting private excavations and commissioned a research team to conduct a detailed survey led by Edward Jenner and Edmund Fellberg. The archaeologists found a settlement covering 190 by 120 metres, containing evidence of buildings and bridges, and numerous Bronze Age artefacts.

In a study published in the journal Science Directs, researchers using gamma spectrometry, X-ray fluorescence, and a Muon Induced X-ray Emission (MIXE) analysis, have revealed that the arrowhead from the Mörigen settlement was made from IAB meteoritic iron.

The results of the analysis indicate that the arrowhead is partly made of Aluminium-26 (26Al, Al-26), a radioactive isotope only found naturally in extraterrestrial objects. In addition to the typical meteoritic elements Fe, Ni, Co, Ga and Ge (Cr < 52 ppm, average detection limit), they also found relatively high concentrations of As and Cu, not typical of iron meteorites.

By comparing the chemical composition, the team suggest that the arrowhead’s material was sourced from the Kaalijarv meteorite, an impact event that occurred around 1,500 BC in Estonia and produced many small fragments.

The researchers also suggest that the arrowhead could indicate a network of trade in iron meteorites by 800 BC (or earlier) in Central Europe, which may have been traded over the same routes from the Baltic area as amber.

Header Image Credit : Science Directs

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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